November 3, 2016
Closing South Korea’s dog meat farms
South Korea is the only country in Asia where dogs are routinely and intensively farmed for human consumption. An estimated 2 million are kept in around 17,000 facilities, left exposed to the elements in small, barren, filthy cages and given little food. Many suffer from disease and malnutrition and all are subjected to terrible, daily neglect or even deliberate cruelty. The methods used to kill the dogs are brutal—electrocution is most common. They are slaughtered in full view of other dogs, and their final moments are painful and terrifying.
Our ultimate goal is a ban on the dog meat trade, and our dog meat farm closures are part of a strategy to create the right political and societal circumstances to make this possible. One of the critical factors in achieving political support is showing that the dog meat trade can be successfully phased out in cooperation instead of conflict with the dog meat farmers, so we are working together with those who are eager to leave the dog meat trade to shut down their operations and transition to humane livelihoods.
All the dogs we have rescued have been flown to the U.S., UK and Canada because at present in South Korea there is insufficient widespread acceptance of dog adoption, particularly for large-size dogs. There is also a misconception that “meat dogs” are different from “pet dogs"; this is something that we hope to change through public education and our hundreds of adoption stories that clearly show this is not the case.
- Farm closure one took place in January 2015: HSI managed the rescue of the farmer’s 23 dogs, permanently closed his dog farming operation and supported his transition to a full-scale blueberry farm. All 23 dogs were flown to the U.S. and adopted out to loving homes. Many serve as ambassadors for our campaign, such as Luna, a beautiful Jindo mix who now lives in Virginia and enjoys going on long hikes, kayaking and canoeing with her adopter David and his other canine companions.
- Farm closure two took place in March 2015, this time rescuing all 57 dogs, a mixture of breeds including beagles, poodles, Korean Jindos and large Mastiff mixes. Farmer Tae Hyung Lee had bred dogs for meat for 20 years; facing criticism from family members for his participation in this trade, he was eager to work with HSI to close his farm and start a new business. These dogs also now live in the U.S., in loving, caring environments. Milo is another Jindo mix who was rescued from this farm as a puppy and now lives in California.
- Farm closure three in September 2015 saw HSI rescue all 119 dogs from a farm in Chungcheongnam-do. The dogs were a mixture of breeds, ranging from large mastiffs to Jindo mixes, spaniel mixes and Chihuahuas. HSI flew them all to partner shelters in California, Oregon, San Francisco and Washington State in the U.S. Cora is one of them, a gentle giant of Mastiff mix now living in Washington, DC with Jene and Seth.
- Farm closure four was in December 2015, rescuing 26 dogs and puppies from a small “starter” dog meat farm in South Korea. These starter farms can very quickly expand to breed large numbers of dogs, so it was vital for HSI to intervene quickly.
- Farm closure five: With more than 250 dogs on this farm in Wonju, this rescue was done in two stages: 50 puppies and dogs in February 2016, followed by the rest in April and May 2016. Huskies, labradors, golden retrievers, large mastiffs and Jindo mixes came from this farm.
- Chicken Farm Dog Rescue: In July 2016, HSI worked with Free Korean Dogs to assist a local South Korean activist with the rehoming of ten dogs who had been rescued from a dog meat farm.
- Jeonju Farm Dog Rescue: In September 2016, HSI worked again with Free Korean Dogs to rescue 31 dogs from a dog meat farm after Korean authorities ordered the farm to shut down for operating illegally without a license. All dogs were sent to the U.S. for rehoming.
- Farm closure six: In January 2017, HSI closed down a farm in Wonju and rescued all 200 dogs. Most were flown to the USA and Canada to find their forever homes, with a group of eight dogs flying to the UK for adoption. The farmer, a mother with a teenage daughter, was keen to leave the trade and move to the city to find a better life for herself and her child.